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UN: Four UN Observers Killed in Israeli Airstrike in Lebanon


The United Nations says four U.N. peacekeepers have been killed in an Israeli airstrike on a U.N. post in southern Lebanon.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, speaking in Rome, called on Israel to investigate what he called the "apparently deliberate targeting" of the U.N. post.

But Israel's consul general, Arye Mekel, told CNN the Jewish state would never attack a U.N. post deliberately. He said to say the attack was deliberate is "very erroneous, very strange and very unwarranted."

Israel says it regrets the "tragic deaths" of the peacekeepers and that it will investigate the incident.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah says his guerrilla group will begin firing rockets into Israel beyond the northern port city of Haifa. In a televised speech Wednesday, Nasrallah says the conflict with Israel has entered a new phase -- the phase of striking "beyond Haifa."

Hezbollah has fired scores of rockets into northern Israel since the fighting began two weeks ago. Israel has said the guerrilla group may possess long-range rockets capable of at least reaching Tel Aviv.

On Tuesday, the Israeli military said a senior Hezbollah commander, Abu Jafar, was killed in a gunfight near the southern Lebanese border village of Maroun al-Ras.

Israeli military officials also say they took control of the Lebanese border town of Bint Jbail, a Hezbollah stronghold. To the north, Israeli forces pounded Beirut.

Separately, a senior Hezbollah official told the Associated Press the guerrilla group did not expect Israel to respond so strongly to the recent capture of two Israeli soldiers. The official, Mahmoud Komati, said Hezbollah expected "the usual, limited" response from Israel.

Israel began its offensive against Hezbollah after guerrillas captured two Israeli soldiers. The violence has claimed the lives of about 400 Lebanese people, almost all civilians, and almost 50 Israels. About 20 Israeli troops have been killed.